Easy listening

Nest Mini (Second Gen)

Smarts for a bargain

Google Home Mini (First Gen)

Google has fixed almost everything that was wrong with the original Google Home Mini and created a significantly better product without raising the price at all. It's the best way to get Google Assistant in your home for less money than man other smart speakers, and it provides an incredible way to get whole-home audio without all the complicated configuration.

$49 at B&H Photo

Pros

  • Significantly improved bass
  • Overall better balanced sound output
  • Third microphone for better listening skills
  • Wall-mount built-in
  • Environmentally friendly manufacturing process
  • Top buttons automatically illuminate as you approach the speaker

Cons

  • Proprietary power cable
  • Bass still isn't as pronounced as the larger Google Home

The original tiny Google Assistant-enabled speaker was a great way to get Google Assistant into your home for less money, but the audio quality was a real letdown. There's no reason to choose this speaker over the Nest Mini if you're buying a brand new one, but it can be found for significantly less money than the Nest Mini through many retailers or second-hand.

$49 at B&H Photo

Pros

  • micro-USB cable makes replacements easy
  • Easily found for less than the MSRP

Cons

  • Practically non-existent bass
  • Sound balance leaves a lot to be desired
  • Have to buy extra accessories to mount it anywhere
  • Buttons on top don't work as originally designed

The Nest Mini is Google's replacement for the original Google Home Mini. While it brings about improvements in every single area you could hope for, both speakers have several similarities. Both speakers offer the ability to call on Google Assistant whenever you need it, both offer easy whole-home audio for jamming to your favorite tunes in every room, and both provide deep tie-ins and simple voice control for over 30,000 smart home devices on the market.

How much better is it, really?

Swapping out the Google Home Mini with a Nest Mini Caption: Swapping out the Google Home Mini (left) with a Nest Mini (right)Source: Android Central

If you're in the market for a Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker and need something small, the Nest Mini is a no-brainer. It's better than the original in just about every way, but that's not what you're here for. You're here to find out if it's worthwhile to replace the Google Home Mini's you've already got littered around the house and, in some cases, the answer to the main question is a yes. The Nest Mini (Second Gen) shows clear signs of Google listening to what reviewers and customers had to say about the Google Home Mini (First Gen).

But for all its improvements, this speaker is nearly identical looking to the first and even matches most specs down to the size and looks of the device.

Nest Mini Google Home Mini
Dimensions 3.9" x 3.9" x 1.6" 3.9" x 3.9" x 1.6"
Weight 181g 173g
Microphones 3 2
Mute Button Yes (Switch) Yes (Switch)
Speakers 40 mm driver, 360-degree sound 40 mm driver, 360-degree sound
Streaming Google Cast, Bluetooth Google Cast, Bluetooth
Pair multiple for stereo sound Yes Yes
Wall mountable Yes No
Finishes Chalk, Charcoal, Coral, Sky Chalk, Charcoal, Coral, Aqua
Universal cable? No Yes (micro-USB)

So what exactly is so good about the Nest Mini? Here are a couple of reasons you might be willing to shell out $50 to replace those existing Google Home Mini speakers.

Thumping good sound

Google Home Mini vs Nest Mini from the side Caption: They look basically identical, Google Home Mini (left), Nest Mini (right)Source: Android Central

Unlike the Google Home Mini (First Gen), the Nest Mini (Second Gen) can be used to actually enjoy music in every room of the house. While the Google Home Mini (First Gen) is a decent way to get music in every room of your home for cheap, the sound quality that comes from the speaker reflects the price of the product. Google figured out how to significantly improve this aspect of the speaker without modifying its tiny dimensions at all, something for which they certainly need to be applauded.

Sound on this speaker is full, vibrant, and sounds excellent. Bass still isn't quite to the level of the significantly more substantial and more expensive Google Home. Still, it's a considerable improvement over the first that's immediately obvious if you own a Google Home Mini (First Gen). It's not just bass that's better, either. It's the entire audio mix. Everything is better balanced, and the range of audio produced on the Nest Mini (Second Gen) means you'll hear nuances of songs that simply aren't present on the Google Home Mini (First Gen)'s anemic speaker.

The unit sounds better, in part, because it requires more energy to power its sound drivers. 15W is still a relatively low amount of power for an electronic device like this. Again, Google gave up a fantastic opportunity to further unify its hardware offerings by giving the Nest Mini a proprietary power cable. The Google Home Mini shipped with a micro-USB cable, which, even at the original time of release, was a bizarre choice since USB Type-C had already established itself as the nest big universal cable.

This is easily the worst part of the Nest Mini's design because it means that, unlike the Google Home Mini, you can't simply swap out any one of the micro-USB cables you've got lying around the house from phone purchases over the years. While the unit obviously ships with the proper cable to power it, you won't have the same luxury of having a universal cable as the Google Home Mini (First Gen) had.

Tack it up

Nest Mini hanging on a wall Caption: Nest Mini hanging on a wall (can't do this with the Google Home Mini)Source: Android Central

If you're like me, you've always wanted to mount your Google Home Minis somewhere on a wall but never wanted to spend the dough to buy some of the third-party mounts on the market. Google noticed that more than a few people wanted this functionality and added a mounting hole on the bottom of the Nest Mini so you can easily hang it on any wall in your home with a simple nail or screw.

What's also nice is that, if you already splurged and purchased some brackets to mount the Google Home Mini (First Gen) on the wall, the Nest Mini (Second Gen) is the exact same size and will work perfectly with your existing brackets.

One additional far-field microphone on the Nest Mini means that the unit can hear your commands better in any room, especially when there's other noise happening. The Google Home Mini only features two mics and sometimes has a hard time hearing commands if you've got kids playing loudly or are making a racket while cooking, for example.

Google Home Mini vs Nest Mini top buttons and lights Caption: Top buttons work properly on the Nest Mini (right)Source: Android Central

Since you're already a Google Home Mini owner, you might recall the drama that surrounded the buttons on the top of the unit when the first-gen Mini initially went up for sale. While Google's ultimate decision was to disable this top button permanently for the Google Home Mini (First Gen), they've completely fixed the issues that (literally) surrounded the button, and it now operates as originally intended on the Nest Mini (Second Gen).

The last part that will undoubtedly make a few folks happy, especially with the new ultrasonic sensor on the Nest Mini. This new sensor can detect when someone is close and reaches toward the Nest Mini to adjust the volume or press the top button, and will illuminate the buttons to better facilitate usage. It's a charming addition that makes the unit just feel a bit more user-friendly.

The new hotness

Nest Mini (Second Gen)

Hang it up, turn it up

While you may already have several Google Home Minis in your home, upgrading to the Nest Mini is an excellent idea if you're looking for better audio quality, ease of mounting on a wall without extra accessories, or if you really just want working buttons on top of the unit. It's a significant improvement to an already excellent product, and it makes this the easiest small speaker to recommend if you want Google Assistant everywhere in your home.

A great cheaper alternative

Google Home Mini (First Gen)

Best on a budget

The Google Home Mini is still a great way to get into the world of Google Assistant, but it's best for enhancing your smart home or for listening to podcasts while you're lying in bed. It's regularly found well under the MSRP and is an incredible overall value, primarily when found for a low price.

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